Shortly after NOMi – a company that bills itself as the Omniture of the brick and mortar store – acquired cross-device startup Media Armor, NOMi itself has been acquired by in-store analytics competitor Brickstream.
Apple delivered a major blow to a core part of NOMi’s business when it revealed this summer that it would begin randomizing Media Access Control (MAC) addresses for mobile operating system iOS8. This basically meant any WiFi-based tracker that relied on the MAC address to identify recurring visits in-store now had a scramble of digits to show for it.
Although this was a boon for consumer privacy, it left some, like NOMi, in an operational tangle.
Re-code reported in August that NOMi, which previously deployed video in addition to WiFi-based tracking methods, would ramp up its investment in the former and in beacon-based technology. Consequently, because WiFi installations were more labor intensive than iBeacons, there were subsequent staff cuts at the company, which Re-code pinned around 20 out of a 60-person total.
With NOMi halting WiFi sensor installations, it unsurprisingly saw “bluetooth and beacons increase in adoption,” CEO Marc Ferrentino told AdExchanger. “We saw the customer [cared less about the method of detection] than they did about getting the value and information they need for a better customer experience. … The Brickstream deal makes a lot of sense for us” looking long term.
Brickstream specialized in blending footage from Brickstream Smart Devices (or video surveillance cameras hooked to back-end analytics) with other data feeds. Through a platform called BehaviorIQ, Brickstream warehoused data collected from smart devices with point-of-sale data, weather and other retail workflow data.
“We will be integrating NOMi’s location analytics and the whole back end they have alongside BehaviorIQ to provide a consistent, integrated single source of truth for in-store data,” commented Steve Jeffery, CEO of Brickstream. “We look at the physical environment of a store in combination with the online retail environment.”
Before its acquisition of Media Armor, NOMi had developed a beacon-powered product called NOMi Mobile. Upon opt in, retail marketers that tap NOMi Mobile could basically fire off notifications or in-app messages to a consumer in-store through NOMi’s SDKs.
The in-store analytics space is widely varied. Some video analytics platforms, like Prism Skylabs, say heck no to WiFi tracking and, instead, dish up visuals of heat maps – not store visitors – to retail clients. Others, like Euclid Analytics, convert WiFi ports into in-store sensors, but claim they’ve always collected anonymous device data and steered clear of universal device addresses.
One company, inMarket, “has an interesting proposition whereby they build a network of in-retail beacons, which send notifications via relevant third-party apps like shopping lists, etc.,” said Tim Dunn, director of mobile and strategy at Isobar US. “While it’s early days, they have some success driving point-of-purchase decision-making and awareness for otherwise low-interest CPG categories.”
Dunn said Beacon technology traction underscores Apple’s approach to the apps ecosystem. “The truth is, anyone in retail now needs to put apps front and center… and take a CRM-led approach rather than expecting to recruit new users through interruptive” techniques, he said.
NOMi, founded in 2012, had raised $13 million in venture capital financing to date. Brickstream has raised $30.2 million through five rounds of financing since it was founded in 2000; terms of the deal were not disclosed. Brickstream had 73 employees to NOMi’s 37. Factoring in 10 new hires, the combined organization will total 120 in headcount by year’s end.